‘Classic set to start Monday

Published 12:58 pm Thursday, December 23, 2010

AHOSKIE – Monday will dawn like any other morning between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Some will be heading to work. Others will be enjoying more time at home with their families. Still others will be on the trek home from their holiday destination.

Come 5 p.m. Monday afternoon, however, the holiday season will be in full swing again at Hertford County High School. That’s because that is the tip time for the opening game of the annual Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty.

“We’re excited about hosting the News-Herald Classic as we always are,” HCHS Athletic Director Charles Simmons said. “This is one of the premier tournaments in eastern North Carolina and it’s always full of fun and good basketball.”

The action will start quickly with defending Holiday Classic Champion Bertie High School opening play on the girl’s side of the bracket. The Lady Falcons will square off with Northampton County High School – East in that first round contest.

That game, which features the defending Tar-Roanoke Conference Champion Lady Rams and last year’s regional semifinalist Bertie, will just be the start of a top-notch night of basketball.

Hertford County High School, the defending Northeastern Coastal Conference champions, will host Gates County High School in the other girl’s semifinal contest.

Head Coach Justin Frederes will be looking for his second straight trip to the finals of the tournament his team co-hosts while Gates County, coming off a tough league loss to Northampton-West, will be looking to rebound.

That contest is slated to tip off at 6:30 p.m.

The final contest of opening night will feature Hertford County High School’s varsity boys trying to reach the finals of the tournament and defend last year’s championship.

The Bears will square off with Gates County High School in that semifinal matchup.

“We’re looking for a big crowd on opening night,” Simmons said. “My suggestion would be to arrive early if you want a good seat. It’s gonna be a great night to watch basketball.”

Tuesday night will be an abbreviated schedule, but will still offer an exciting evening of basketball.

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. when the Girl’s Consolation Game takes center stage. The event will feature the two teams that lose in Monday’s opener.

That game will be followed by the second boy’s semifinal contest featuring Bertie High School and Northampton County High School – East.

Friday night will be the premier night of the event with a pair of championships on the schedule.

“If you haven’t had the opportunity to be in that gym on championship night, you have missed a great atmosphere,” said Joe Murray, owner and operator of United Country Joe Murray Realty, who co-sponsors the event. “It’s an exciting night and always provides great high school basketball.”

Doors open at 4 p.m. and then the night will kick off with a Boy’s Consolation game at 5 p.m. That will feature the losers of the two semifinal contests squaring off for third place.

After that, the championships will take center stage.

At 6:30 p.m., the girl’s title game will be on tap. The winner’s of Monday’s contests will square off with the championship trophy on the line.

“Our girl’s championship games are always exciting,” said Thadd White, Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, one of the tourney’s co-sponsors. “Even though Bertie has been dominant over the last several years, the championship games are always good ones.”

After that contest, there will be an awards ceremony which will feature trophies for the first, second and third place teams as well as a Tournament Most Valuable Player and an All-Tournament Team.

When the pageantry ends, the last game of the tournament will be ready to take the court.

“The boy’s championship game is always a highlight of the tournament,” Murray said. “The crowd is into both championship contests and, when you have a standing room only crowd, that makes for a lot of fun.”

When the boy’s championship is completed, the final awards ceremony will be held.

The event has been sponsored by Roanoke-Chowan Publications since its inception and five years ago, United Country Joe Murray Realty joined as one of the title sponsors.

“We are appreciative of the News-Herald and Joe Murray Realty for their support of high school athletics,” Simmons said. “They make it possible to put on a first class tournament.”

Both sponsors said they were glad to be part of the event.

“We have been involved with the tournament since the very beginning,” White said. “We’re proud of what it has become and of being part of that.”

“I am a product of high school athletics myself, so I appreciate the work of the student-athletes in our region,” Murray said. “I am proud that our company is able to support our local prep athletes.”

The organizers of the tournament have been watching the weather in case of the winter storm causing problems for travel. They will continue to do so over the weekend.

“We’ll keep an eye out and, if there has to be changes in the schedule, we’ll let everyone know on the News-Herald website (www.r-cnews.com) early Monday,” Simmons said.